Read mail quickly, the smartphone is in constant use, the laptop is always at hand, then there are the messaging services. We can be reached around the clock, especially now when we are working from home. This creates tension and can lead to panic attacks! A new fear disorder in the digital age is called nomophobia. The word stands for “No Mobile Phone Phobia” and describes the fear of not being available without a mobile phone.
Dr. Andreas Hagemann, specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy at the Rohr Park Hospital in Eschweiler (North Rhine-Westphalia), explains how a mental disorder develops and what you can do about it on your own.
What is nomophobia?
Experts talk about an anxiety disorder caused by sleep phobia (not cell phone phobia) of the cell phone generation. In addition to stress, uncertainty and inner anxiety are also typical symptoms such as tremors or sweating. Dr. Hagman.
Just thinking about having no contact, even for a short time, causes the stress level to rise. “In addition to fear of losing something, the pressure of self-imposed expectation definitely plays a major role,” says the expert. “This means: I think the other person expects an immediate answer, and if I don’t live up to expectations, I will be disappointed.”
The relatively harmless phenomenon often maskes addictive behavior that requires treatment or another mental illness such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or social phobia.
Multitasking strains the brain
Since the clinical picture is relatively new, there is still no good knowledge about the effectiveness of various psychotherapy options. If mental disorders do exist, this is the focus of conventional treatment. “Since the behavior and symptoms of sufferers resemble addictions and other concerns, the cognitive behavioral therapy used there is likely to be beneficial,” explains Dr. Hagman.
The main starting point of treatment: Turn off your smartphone! Dr. Hagman.
Not being present at all times creates more personal freedom and promotes stress reduction. “It helps to check for yourself how many hours you spend on the Internet each day,” advises the expert. “The result will surprise many and may motivate them to use cell phones with care.”
It is helpful and relaxing to limit continuous multitasking, for example not checking emails or surfing the Internet at the same time a phone call is made. Dr. warns. Hagman. “Simply because he is unable to focus on two complex activities at the same time.”
The result: our performance does not increase, it decreases. “We jump back and forth on topics and have to work our way through them every time,” says the specialist. Ultimately, nothing is working properly. Expert Advice: “It’s better to focus on one thing at a time than jumping back and forth between two complex tasks.” Otherwise, compression is literally programmed.
This helps with digital compression
► You can also mute your cell phone or laptop so you can work or relax without being disturbed. “In general, take regular leave,” advises Dr. Hagman. “Already a quarter of an hour a day for your own needs helps mentally cope with stress.”
► Breathing exercises like the 4-7-8 method also have a relaxing effect: place the tip of the tongue behind the upper incisors, then breathe through your nose, counting to four. Then hold your breath and count to seven. Then exhale through your mouth and count to eight. Repeat the whole thing three times.
► Stress management techniques and relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) or yoga / meditation also bring more calm in life.